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Updated: Thursday, 15 Sep 2011, 10:27 AM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 14 Sep 2011, 9:25 PM CDT
BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) - Money is beginning to flow to the victims of the Bastrop County fires. FEMA spokesman Ray Perez said more than 1,875 families have registered to receive assistance.
Perez also said $967,000 has been approved for temporary housing reimbursements and $88,000 to provide victims with personal items.
FEMA also expanded the disaster assistance to include wildfire victims in Travis and Williamson counties.
At Word of Life Community Church off Highway 21 East, Pastor Mike Vega has a lot of work ahead. Fire not only took his church, and youth pastor's home--it also took his own house next door.
"It's a little disheartening when you come out and look at it," said Vega.
Even though Vega lost a home and place to worship, he hasn't lost sight of what's important.
"It's a building -- buildings come and buildings go and we're going to have another," he said.
In the midst of all the destruction on the church grounds there is one thing that gives Vega hope. A wooden outdoor sanctuary just feet away from the other burned structures is mostly intact. He said that is amazing since the fire burned below the podium stage.
"I believe it's a sign from God," said Vega.
Vega, along with more than 350 other people, have visited the Diaster Recovery Center at Bastrop High School's ninth grade academy since it opened Tuesday morning.
That's a one-stop-shop for state and federal disaster assistance.
"You can get that face-to-face personal attention, talk to a real person," said Perez.
Joshua Bennett lost all his belongings when his friend's house burned to the ground.
"I didn't even have time to get clothes, pretty much what I was wearing for church is what I had," said Bennett.
Bennett, who was starting a band, lost all his instruments. He's now staying with his mom and receiving help from various agencies.
"May have lost everything but just keep going. I mean at least we're alive. We got out with our lives," Bennett said.
Vega said he'll look into getting financial assistance to rebuild his church.
For him and many others, the fire took a lot, but not their spirit nor perseverance.
"You can blame a lot of things, you can blame everything from nature to the devil to whatever you want to, but the fact is you are at a place where you have to just stop and say, you know what, we're going to go on from here," said Vega.
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